Our Family Fishing Vacation Getaways

Our Family Fishing Vacation Getaways

Try these popular summer vacation hotspots for great fishing, as well as interesting diversions that will please everyone in the family. (June 2009)

Keystone State families planning their 2009 vacations may want to start with their own extensive state park system to find plenty of excellent fishing, lodging and fun. Vast tracts of public land have been set aside to ensure that families who want to get away from it all will always have a place to go. Lodging options range from primitive tent sites to fully equipped cabins. Native and stocked trout, as well as plentiful warmwater species, provide all the challenge and variety a vacationing angler could wish for.

And when fishing is done for the day and the family wants to explore beyond the campground, there's a whole world of interesting things to do from exploring caves to learning about local history, visiting zoos or taking world-class amusement park rides before hitting the water park.

It's all good, and it's all right here!

HEAD FOR THE HILLS
Blue Knob State Park in Pavia makes a great base camp for a family fishing getaway. At 3,146 feet above sea level, Blue Knob is the second highest mountain in Pennsylvania.

For knockout views to the northeast on a clear day, head for Expressway Chairlift, which is on leased parkland operated by the Blue Knob Ski Resort. Views to the southeast can be enjoyed from Chappells Field across from the campground. Great southern views may be had at the Willow Spring Picnic Area. Or, take the family on a hike along the Mountain View Trail for views to the southwest from the Pavia Overlook.

The campground has 45 sites, including 25 with electric hookups. Water, restrooms and a playground are available as well.

There are streams within the park that hold native brook trout and stocked trout. Bobs Creek and its tributaries are good places to start.

Nearby is Beaverdam Run Reservoir, a 360-acre impoundment east of Beaverdale on Route 869. The reservoir is managed under both the Big Bass and Panfish Enhancement programs, so be sure to check current regulations before heading out.

Beaverdam Run is stocked with rainbow and brook trout as well as smallmouth bass. There are some big bluegills and crappies, and the reservoir is also home to largemouth bass and northern pike.

When the family isn't catching fish, there's still plenty to do in 6,128-acre Blue Knob State Park. Swim in the pool or take a bike ride along one of several multi-use trails. There are beginner, intermediate and experienced mountain bike trails. Or, load up the backpacks and hike the 26-mile Lost Turkey Trail, which winds through state park, state forest, state game and private lands.

For more information, call the park office at (814) 276-3576 or e-mail blueknobsp@state.pa.us.

Shawnee State Park in Schellsburg spans 3,983 acres and includes some fine fishing at 451-acre Shawnee Lake. Anglers can expect to take muskellunge, northern pike, walleyes and largemouth and smallmouth bass here. Younger anglers will enjoy the plentiful panfish.

There's a fishing pier by the Diehl Parking Lot, three boat launch areas around the lake, and a boat concession that rents paddleboats, canoes and rowboats.

The campground has 293 sites and 65 have electrical hookups. Pets are allowed at designated campsites. The campground has bathhouses with flush toilets, showers and laundry tubs. There is a camp store.

On an island at the heart of the park is the three-story Shawnee Lodge, with a modern kitchen and bathroom. The lodge sleeps eight. There's a porch and the yard features a fire ring and picnic table.

The park has a sand and turf beach with bathhouses. Picnic tables, charcoal grills, water fountains and restrooms are strategically located throughout the park. There are 15 miles of hiking trails here and more than seven miles of biking trails. The Lakeshore Trail provides easy peddling, although there is a short stretch of shared road. Other designated bike paths are moderately difficult.

For more information, call (814) 733-4218 or e-mail questions to shawneesp@state.pa.us.

Reservations may be made by calling (888) 727-2757.

Anglers will want to wet a line in the Raystown Branch Juniata River for largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskellunge, pickerel, walleyes and panfish. Much of this 20-mile stretch of water gets too low to hold trout during the hot summer months, but deeper holes may be found along Route 31 west and along the upper reaches near New Baltimore.

Cove Creek near Everett holds native and stocked trout. Wills and Little Wills creeks are stocked with trout and are accessible off Route 96.

Yellow Creek is one of the best trout streams in the region. From Loysburg downstream, the creek loses elevation and flows through Loysburg Gap where large boulders, deep pools and fast riffles promise a shot at big trout all summer. Lower sections of Yellow Creek are productive for smallmouth bass.

Gallitzin State Forest, five miles east of Windber, deserves a visit. This 15,336-acre area consists of two separate parcels of state forestland. The Babcock Division in northern Somerset County makes up the bulk of the forest. There's a scenic picnic area on Route 56, and the John P. Saylor Trail and portions of the Lost Turkey Trail attract hikers.

The Charles F. Lewis Natural Area is within the Rager Mountain Division near Cramer. This preserved natural area has a two-mile foot trail that winds through Clark Run Gorge.

Call (814) 472-1862 or visit www. dcnr.state.pa.us/Forestry/stateforests/ gallitzin.aspx for more information.

Don't forget to take the clan to explore the Coral Caverns in Manns Choice, said to be the only fossilized coral reef cavern known to exist. This towering wall holds fossils of coral and other sea creatures buried over 400 million years ago when the state was partially submerged under "The Great Inland Sea."

Access is off Exit 11 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike about seven miles west of Bedford.

To arrange a visit, call (814) 623-6882 or visit www.coralcaverns.com.

Two miles east of Cresson are the remains of the Allegheny Portage Railroad. This system, in operation from 1833 to 1857, was used to bring canal boats over the mountains. During its time, this was the q

uickest way to traverse Pennsylvania's mountainous wilderness.

Despite weekly injuries to passengers, famous folk like Charles Dickens and Ulysses S. Grant opted to take the risk in exchange for speedier travel. The historic site has hiking trails, a picnic area and costumed guides.

Call (814) 886-6150 or visit www.nps.gov/alpo/.

For another engineering feat of interest, visit Horseshoe Curve in Altoona. The Altoona Railroad Museum, 40 minutes north of Bedford, has interactive displays and hands-on learning sure to please kids of all ages.

Ride the Funicular or climb the 194 landscaped steps to the tracks for a front seat view. There's a gift shop and snack bar on site, as well as picnic facilities.

Call (814) 946-0834 or visit www.railroadcity.com/hc/index.php.

The family animal lover will want to stop by CeDarrow's Bison Corral on Route 30 west outside of Schellsburg. This is an expansion of CeDarrow's Bison Farm, which started raising these big animals in December 1988. There's room to pull over to take photographs, but visitors are advised to remain outside the fence!

Call (814) 733-4908 or visit www.bedfordcounty.net.

Acorn Acres Deer Farm, 1822 Fleegle Road in Bedford, has deer, emus and pygmy goats to observe. Admission is free.

Call (814) 623-7584 or e-mail for information at ltoke@nb.net.

For a peek at llamas and a sip of birch beer (a non-alcoholic local beverage), take Business Route 220 one mile out to Fishers Country Store. John Fisher keeps llamas out back and cold birch beer in the cooler.

Next, stop by the Reynoldsdale State Fish Hatchery, about 15 minutes northwest of Bedford. Take Reynoldsdale Road to Fish Hatchery Road. A small museum here includes displays of various wildlife species. The working hatchery raises over 350,000 trout each year with tanks holding live trout of various age classes.

Call (814) 839-2211 for details.

The family history buff will want to visit Fort Bedford Park and Museum. The British built the fort as part of their fortified supply road, known as the Forbes Trail. The fort is in downtown Bedford, north of the corner of Pitt and Juliana streets.

Call (814) 623-8891 for more information.

Old Bedford Village, one mile north of Bedford, consists of historic homes and shops occupied by craftsmen and characters that bring history to life. There are French and Indian War reenactments and Civil War reenactments.

Call (814) 623-1156 for details.

Car buffs will want to visit Swigart's Auto Museum. There are nearly 200 vehicles here including Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Marmon, DuPond, Duesenberg, CordOpen, many pre-1914 models and two (rare) Tuckers.

Access is off Route 22 about an hour out of Bedford. Call (814) 643-0885 for hours of operation.

About 45 minutes north of Bedford is DelGrosso's Amusement Park. There are more than 30 rides, a water park, go-karts and miniature golf here. The Altoona-Tipton Speedway in the park provides racers of all ages an opportunity to put the pedal to the metal and hug the curves.

Call (866) 684-3538 or visit www.delgrossos.com.

About 35 minutes north of Bedford, Lakemont Park offers park rides, a water park, go-karts and a miniature golf course.

For information, call (800) 434-8006 or visit www.lakemontpark. com.

For more about this region, check DeLorme's Pennsylvania Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 74. For details, contact the Bedford County Visitors Bureau at (800) 765-3331 or log onto www.bedfordcounty.net.

FOSTER JOSEPH SAYERS LAKE
The Bald Eagle State Park in Blanchard has much to offer vacationing families. There are 171 campsites here with fishing access to Foster Joseph Sayers Lake. The park spans 5,900 acres of scenic public land with views to the Allegheny Plateau to the north and east, and long, narrow mountain ridges and valleys to the south.

The Russell P. Letterman Campground has 97 campsites, two yurts and three camping cottages. The beach and marina are less than a mile away. Electric hookups of 30 amps are available at 70 sites; 12 campsites have 50-amp hookups.

There's also a primitive camping area with 70 sites designed to accommodate tents and RVs. Drinking water is available at several locations along the camp road.

The Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir offers anglers 1,730 acres of water to explore. The lake is used for flood control, so water levels do vary. This warmwater fishery is productive for largemouth and smallmouth bass, tiger muskies, channel catfish, yellow perch and crappies. This is a Panfish Enhancement Area and special regulations apply. Always check current fishing regulations before heading out.

Boats with inboard engines with over-the-transom or straight stack-type exhausts are not allowed here, and other boaters must follow the counter-clockwise traffic pattern, traveling at no more than 45 miles per hour.

The marina offers 365 dockage slip rentals. There are several launch areas around this big lake, including three within the main state park area. The Hunter Run West Launch, near the campground, offers 24-hour access. The Hunter Run East Launch is off Skyline Drive. A year-round access is along the lake north of the beach and provides a fishing pier. Bald Eagle Boat Launch in Howard is illuminated. Lower Greens Run Boat Launch, off State Route 150, has a fishing pier. Upper Greens Run is also off state Route 150.

There's a 1,200-foot sand and turf beach with changing rooms, a playground and a snack bar. The park also has 11 miles of hiking trails and an interpretive center. Hands-on activities, guided walks and campfire programs will educate and entertain campers of all ages.

The park is along state Route 150 between Milesburg and Lock Haven.

For details, call (814) 625-2775 or visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks.

SPROUL STATE FOREST
Hyner Run State Park, six miles east of Renovo, has 30 campsites with level pads, picnic tables and fire rings. Some sites have electric hookups. There's also a rental cabin that sleeps up to eight people.

The park is within Sproul State Forest. Hyner Run offers excellent stream fishing for stocked brookies and brown trout. Native brook trout may be caught in the upper reaches.

There are several other fine trout streams outside the park, and East Branch Young Woman's Creek

has a nearby fly-fishing-only area.

Hyner Run State Park is the eastern trailhead for the 50-mile Donut Hole Trail system. Shorter trails may be found on state forestlands. There is a large swimming pool in the park, and between the campground and the swimming pool there is a playground.

Call (570) 923-6000 or e-mail hunerrunsp@state.pa.us for more information.

Hyner Run and Hyner View state parks are within Sproul State Forest's 276,764 acres. There are more than 400 miles of coldwater streams within the forest. Twelve streams boast native trout populations and water quality that allow them to be classified as Wilderness Trout Streams.

In addition to the Donut Hole Trail system, the forest is home to the 50-mile, double-loop Chuck Keiper Trail. This trail traverses the Fish Dam Wild Area and the Burns Run Wild Area, and is marked with orange blazes. There are several other trails that were originally created for fire protection but are now utilized for hiking.

All trails other than Donut Hole and Chuck Keiper are open to mountain bikers.

Call (570) 923-6011 for more Sproul State Forest information.

KETTLE CREEK
The 1,793-acre Kettle Creek State Park has 71 campsites. The Lower Campground has 41 sites, 36 with electricity. The Upper Campground has 27 sites, 12 with electricity.

Kettle Creek Reservoir, covering 167 acres, is known for its trout and bass fishing. The reservoir is also home to brown bullheads, suckers and panfish.

The Lower Campground sits beside seven-acre Kettle Creek Lake, which is also a popular fishing hole. The reservoir has a boat launch at the northern end (electric motors only).

The park has a five-mile biking trail that begins in the day use parking lot and loops through state forest trails. Short day hikes are available on many park trails. The longer Donut Hole Trail is accessible from the parking lot across from Lower Campground. There's a 250-foot sandy beach for swimming at the northern end of the reservoir.

Children's programs, guided walks and campfire programs are all part of the fun here.

Call (570) 923-6004 or visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/.

For a birds-eye view of the region, visit Silent Eagle Sailplane Rides at 412 Dry Run Road in Beech Creek.

Call (570) 660-6028 to make reservations.

During summer, there are often free evening concerts along the West Branch Susquehanna River at the J. Doyle Corman Amphitheater and Floating Stage at East Water Street in Lock Haven.

Musical performances include country, doo-wop, blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, new and classic rock, reggae, tributes and dance.

Call (570) 893-5900 for concert scheduling.

For more information about this region, check DeLorme's Pennsyl­vania Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 48. Or, contact the Clinton County Economic Partnership Tourist Agency at (888) 388-6991, or visit the Web site at www.clintoncountyinfo.com.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Area Fisheries Management offices may be called with questions about fishing. For a listing of telephone numbers, license information, fishing regulations and more, call (717) 657-4518 or visit www.fish.state.pa.us/mpag1.htm.

Boating inquiries may be answered by calling (717) 657-4551.

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